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Pixar's 'Soul' has been met with high praise from critics & fans alike. Did you know about the alternative ending? Watch it now.

Already viewed Disney Pixar’s ‘Soul’? Watch its alternative ending

Pixar made us cry again. Not that this comes as a surprise to anyone. 

The most recent Pixar film, Soul, dropped on Disney+ Christmas Day, right in time for families to enjoy together. Starring Jamie Foxx & Tina Fey, the film focuses around band teacher Joe (Foxx) trying to make his big break, but dying right before his time in the spotlight comes. The only way back to Earth is to help disgruntled soul 22 (Fey) find her spark, but they do not make it easy for Joe. 

No surprise, Soul has been met with high praise from critics & fans alike, some claiming the movie is easily a top five best for Pixar. Some have called out the issues with Joe, Pixar’s first black protagonist, not being allowed in his own body most of the movie – and rightfully so. But the majority of criticism has been aimed at the ending of the film –  or lack thereof.

(Don’t lose your spark: Spoilers for Soul ahead!)

Not an ending

Once Joe shows soul 22 the petal that gave them their spark, they break free of the lost soul cage and feel ready to go to Earth. Joe dives with them, going as far as he can. Once 22 leaves for Earth, Joe prepares for the Great Beyond, until Jerry pulls him over and offers him a second chance at life. When Jerry asks what Joe plans on doing with his second chance, he says he’s going to make sure he lives his life to the fullest. 

While sentimental, many viewers are left dumbfounded at the lackluster ending from Soul. Pixar is known for tear-jerker endings, such as the playtime scene in Toy Story 3 and the rebuilding of the door in Monsters Inc. For Pixar to opt for a cheap ending of Soul feels like a kick in the stomach to fans. 

However, an interview with some of the creative team behind Soul explains why the ending differs from normal Pixar endings. It seems the team couldn’t nail down whether or not Joe should go back to Earth until the last minute. 

101 possible endings?

In an interview about the film, co-directors Pete Doctor & Kemp Powers and producer Dana Murray explained how the film’s ending wasn’t the original ending. Up until the last test screening of the film, Joe didn’t go to the Great Beyond at the end of Soul. 

Pixar producer Dana Murray told Entertainment Tonight it came down to the journey Joe went on throughout Soul. “There was a lot of debating back and forth. But I think the more we saw him live his life and just thinking about his mother Libba, and all these different factors, it felt like the right ending, that he needed to be able to go enjoy his life in the way he wanted to.” 

Soul co-director Kemp Powers explained further that the Pixar team behind the film had multiple ideas for the film’s ending. “We have versions of the ending where Joe does not go back to his body, where he actually stays dead. We have versions of the ending where you see Joe on Earth a year later.”

What’s the best ending?

According to co-director Pete Doctor, within the Pixar team behind Soul, there were different “camps” about which ending for the film was best. “People felt like it’s cheating to let him go back. On the other hand, story-wise, you can’t teach this guy to enjoy life the right way and then rob him of that.”

All three Pixar staff members echo the meaning of Soul is extremely personal, so the ending is what each viewer makes of it. Personally, we like the alternate ending where soul 22 becomes a student of Joe’s – but that ending isn’t for everyone. 

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